Foucault – Trump, Foucault – Trump, prelude of the post truth | Marc Chalamanch

Foucault - Trump, preludio de la posverdad Marc Chalamanch
Foucault – Trump, prelude of post truth  

New old men it happens, new old theories.

Last November 8, 2016 Donald Trump gains the presidential choices of the United States of America against any forecast, making triumph a new way of doing politics that marks the entry to a new age of interrelationship between countries worldwide. A few months before it seemed – according to all the polls – that Hillary Clinton had the gained choices, thanks to having the support of a great part of the political, economic, cultural and journalistic power, included the traditionally republican newspapers. But in the last weeks Donald Trump and his “autoconstruction” of a leader’s image antielites, and from a xenophobic speech, in opposition to the immigration and with frontal assaults to the traditional press, they obtained a major presence in the mass media up to the point of turning in decisive for his choice. It created a political speech and it was issued across political institutions, which was spread in the mass media across controversial declarations that were got like acceptable for the company where and for those who were issued. Trump’s strategy was directed to dominate the production and the diffusion of the truth in the style of five points that Michel Foucault1 was explaining:

“In companies like ours the “political economy” of the truth is characterized by five historically important features: the “truth” is centred on the form of the scientific speech and in the institutions that produce it; it is submitted to a constant economic and political incitement (need indeed both for the economic production and for the political power); it is a low object diverse forms of an immense diffusion and consumption (it circulates in devices of education or of information which extension is relatively wide in the social body in spite of certain strict limitations); it is produced and transmitted under the not exclusive control but if dominant of some big political or economic devices (university, army, writing, mass media); in end, it is the core of the question of the whole political debate and of the whole social clash (“ideological” fights)”.

Of the set of these strategies a new concept went out, the post truth, which cannot come undone of the crisis of credibility of the traditional mass media and of saying “aims”, together with the force of them social networks with which it managed to come to the electorate and to give I overturn to his intentions of vote. As Foucault was affirming, the power has to be analyzed in a circular way and in chain, and without few ones being able to be centralized in hands of some, without capacity of the power to appropriate it. The power works and is exercised in network, where the individuals not only can suffer it if not also they can exercise it.

Since precedent we had the surprise that the Brexit had supposed in the United Kingdom, from the blow to the process of peace with the FARC in Colombia and of the vision that Black Mirror had given us of the world. Then there comes to us Donald Trump’s victory that supposes the occlusion of the word “Post truth” as definition of the current time in which we live. Michel Foucault was saying that the speech does not reflect the reality, but he constructs it, for which was trying to understand the contexts and the genealogy of the speech. In this respect it was not seeking to show the truth or falsehood of the propositions, but the ” rate of check ” referred to the context and to the structures that allow that a speech should end up by turning really.

The neologism “Post truth” or emotive truth, “Post truth”, allows to describe a current way of creating and shaping the public opinion where the objective facts have less capacity of influence than the appeal to the emotions and to the personal beliefs. That is to say, that what makes us feel what happens is more important than what really it is happening.

In politics the debate places in the appeals to the emotions disconnected of the facts. It is not also an exceptional fact since 80 % of the political campaigns resorts to a feeling, and especially, to the fear. But we are in that the posverdad can that the bottom does not change but if the form. There is exceeded the fact of forging the truth on having understood that the appearance indeed is more important than the own truth, that is to say, that the true stories happen in a background after the modification of the reality with a few concrete ends. In this respect the politics transforms the contexts, mixes the concepts and gives the return to the truth according to his aims. Definitively it is simply lie, swindle or falsehood concealed under the name turned in politically correctly of posverdad. In the year 2016 the dictionaries of Oxford considered to be the word of the year “Post truth” due to the increase of his utilization of 2.000 % I respect a year 2015 due to his use in relation with the Brexit and in the latter presidential choices in the United States.

The excessive exhibition in the social networks, his popularity and her on information that Internet offers they serve the political parties and his supporters as direct channel of communication with the citizens without happening for any type of filter not journalistically not of recognition of the sources of information, making eliminate this way the author’s category that Michel Foucaultdevelops. The intensive use of Internet has transformed the nature of the communication into the contemporary companies, an environment that turns out to be increasingly problematic and complex after having overcome the communication thought exclusively about unidirectional key. This allows to develop a series of strategies of black propaganda based on the loss of prestige, the falsehood and the disinformation with a few concrete aims since already there had developed Joseph Goebbels, the secretary of Nazi advertising. Therefore they are ideas that are not new, already in the middle of s. The XXth Orwell was speaking about the Department of the Truth and about the newspeak in his novel “1984” and at the same time as Foucault was doing it on the panóptico and the means as mechanism of social control to “Monitoring and punishing” not very far from what it tries the post truth: prublicity, disinformation and massive distraction; a few meanings that are not new steps. For the postestructuralistas like Michel Foucault nothing joins already the significant one with the meaning bringing adrift of the meaning and of the truth4.

Many politicians have transformed the costly art of finding the truth in a construction of truths fastnews. They do not elaborate his ephemeral truths on the philosophical bases of the truth, derived from the postmodernity, but for his pragmatic, improper use and ignoring that it demonstrates the skepticism and the weariness with the big ideal ones of the past. It is true that the impossibility of the unequivocal, last and only foundation of the truth is the most showy aspect of the postmodern era, an aspect that partly Michel Foucault denounces understanding the truth as a statement constructed with the only end of the totalitarian control of the citizenship.

At the same time the discussion on the posverdad during the presidential choices in The United States was accompanied by the campaign of “fake news“, a series of false news that the people were answering basically for Facebook. Before the demand of news on the part of the political followers of the candidates, new entrepreneurs found a way easy to gain money with the production of news with the only aim that they were finishing turning in viral, looking for the maximum of reproductions and transmissions for Facebook and for the social networks.

Foucault - Trump, preludio de la posverdad
Foucault – Trump, prelude of post truth

A few news was the product of the purest lie or of whom simply they were manipulating the already existing news to produce the effect wished in his readers. This offer of news was very well got for a type of public, especially on the part of the conservative American public. An electorate that already for some years the republican party has isolated of the illustrated world, giving content to the speech negacionista of the evolution and of the climate change, to the retreat of the public funds of the family-planning clinics, which has attacked the collective bargaining and has blocked the public system of health, or has protected the lobby of the possession of weapon while it was invoking to the freedom, one more demonstration of which the concept of posverdad is not so recent either. As he says Foucault1

“The truth is not out of the power, not without power (it is not, in spite of a myth, of which it would be necessary to reconstruct the history and the functions, the reward of the free spirits, the son of long lonelinesses, the privilege of those that have could become emancipated)”.

Certainly, and as Foucault1, to know transmitted adopts always a positive appearance while it plays to the exclusion for those that they do not have right to the knowledge or only for a type imposed by a filter hidden under a disinterested, universal and objective aspect of knowledge. One to know that it is directed by the “circuits reserved of to know” that they form the device of production, the administration and the government, definitively the power that have the aptitude to direct the messages that want to give his electors and that his formation implies, to end up by obtaining his political conformity. Donald Trump breaks this way the dichotomy that to know official represents to the political power inside a class accommodated in contraposition with the fight of the popular movements by his rights. He searches, takes advantage and manipulates the speech of the defense of the popular classes official is made by the power of know. He understands the expression of the order of Michel Foucault’s speech to change the communicative modals and of influence that existed till now while it manipulates the speech, the practices and the events that up to the moment were constituting the languages of the power, determining the creation, the production and the way of spreading the messages inside the company, and creating a real speech for his own company. Since it raises Foucault1:

“The truth is of this world; it is produced here thanks to multiple impositions. It has here effects regulated of power. Every company has his regime indeed, his “general politics of the truth”: it is to say, the types of speeches that she receives and makes work like real; the mechanisms and the instances that allow to distinguish the real or false terms of reference, the way of sanctioning some and others; the technologies and the procedures that are valued for the obtaining of the truth; the statute of those managers of saying what is what works like really.”

Thus it achieves that his electorate distrusts the big means of traditional news, a few means that in a majority way had supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and that were surprised on having seen that his capacity of influence had been overcome by other forms of transmission of news and of information across the networks. A new offer and that has turned out to be much more effective.

Foucault - Trump, preludio de la posverdad
Foucault – Trump, prelude of post truth

An editor of false news, in an interview to the diary The Washington Post5, explains how the electors of Trump were not checking any news before making her viral for Facebook and how in a compulsive way they were supporting any news that was aligned by his political thesis. In the previous weeks in the day of Donald Trump’s victory in the choices of November 8, there proliferated a great quantity of false and prone to fantasizing information that were circulating along Facebook, provoking the accusation this social network of having contributed to his victory on having stopped to circulate along his network the false news. In this case Trump’s strategy bears in mind that the important thing is not true, but the set of rules according to which the real thing of the false thing is discriminated, as it explains Foucault1:

“A combat exists «for the truth», or at least «about the truth» -once again time more there be understood well that for truth I do not want to say «the set of real things that it is necessary to discover or make agree», but «the set of rules according to which the real thing of the false thing is discriminated and political effects of power unite to real»; there is understood likewise that it is not a question of a combat «in favor» of the truth but concerning the statute indeed and to the economic-political paper that it plays. It is necessary to think the political problems of the intellectual ones not about terms of «science / ideology» but about terms of «truth / power»”.

It is necessary to be conscious that the social networks are the second source of information of political American news behind the television. Mark Zuckerberg, president and founder of Facebook, he denied the accusation but if it admitted that the users were inclined to share and read the articles that are aligned by his ideological personal previous positions. Then it is when Mark Zuckerberg announces 7 points6  to try to control the false news, at the time that it was defending itself saying that it could certify that 99 % of the news that run for Facebook7 has the guarantee of veracity, a fact absolutely impossible to verify. Equally it tried to defend months before the choices saying that Facebook was only a technological platform and that it was not responsible for his contents, but when he says these words he forgets his aptitude to censure the sex and the nudes in his pages, a good sample of what it can manage to do if one proposes it and he is interested in it. But what he says Quarzis that Donald Trump invested 56 million dollars in propaganda in Facebook, almost the same thing that in television (68 millions). As he says Foucault

“The “truth” is tied circular to the systems of power that produce it and support it, and to the effects of power that it induces and that they accompany her. «Regime» of the truth“. 

This set of Mark Zuckerberg’s contradictory declarations only serve to make clear that the form of use of these platforms is ahead of that his owners can manage to think and plan. As BuzzFeed9 the majority of 20 false histories that were selling specialized webs “hoax” or partisan blogs provoked 8,7 million interactions, whereas the 20 of the considered places serious The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Huffington Post obtained 7,4 million reactions.

The chief of campaign of Donald Trump and owner of the web ultra Breibart, Steve Bannon, had clear that one of the keys to lead Trump to gaining the choices was his capacity of expansion inside Facebook and with him the expansion of his web Breitbart to the public of masses. An expansion that had the second part focused towards a look on Europe and in the presidential choices in France. An investigation of BuzzFeed10, it reveals that the false news that were hung on Facebook for Trump’s electoral campaign supposed 38 % of the total of the messages issued across the social networks, whereas those of Clinton were 20 %.

In Antoni Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí‘s11 study, which analyzes Facebook’s use on the part of Clinton and Trump during the campaign (from September 12 to November 19) says that Trump’s television was really Facebook Live and his diaries they were really the walls of this platform used by 70 % of the North American citizens. Trump turned Facebook into his tool of persuasion, conviction and mobilization, skipping to any intermediary, already they were the journalists, the programs, the channels, the owners, etc.

Foucault - Trump, preludio de la posverdad
Foucault – Trump, prelude ot post truth

Also in The Order of the Speech12,Michel Foucault us raises that the power can be achieved by means of the normalization and acceptance on the part of the company of an ideology or a speech. The speeches of the power look for the way of clarifying and separating what for this company is considered to be normal or acceptable, and at the same time what is considered to be undesirable and rejectable. A basic beginning of exclusion that Foucault explains is absolutely strategic for Donald Trump in the moment that seeks to fix in the minds of his American voters messages like that the immigration or the economy can be solved easily exiling immigrants and turning them in undesirable. This way don´t blames to the “good Americans” and it makes responsible to the public’s part in that he is not interested. A strategy to construct a post truthd that in a beginning was looking like a great farce, but that gave a vision of solution to 40 % of the North Americans.

“The political question, in sum, is not the mistake, the illusion, the mentally ill conscience or the ideology: it is the truth itself”. Foucault 1

Marc Chalamanch · Architect
Barcelona. July 2017


1 Foucault, Michel, Alvarez-Uría, F., & Varela, J. (1992). Microfísica del poder. La Piqueta. Disponible a [Consulta 15 març 2017] capítol “Verdad y Poder” pàg. pàg.175- 189

2 the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth. 

3 Foucault, Michel (1969) “¿Qué es un autor?”. A: Obras esenciales de Michel Foucault I. Barcelona: Paidós, 1999.

4 Tubella, Imma; Alberich, Jordi (2011) “Els media en la societat de la informació” Mòdul 1. Nous vells mitjans, noves velles teories. FUOC, 2011

5 Dewey, Caitlin (2016) Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’. Washington Post

Bernish, Claire (2016) Zuckerberg Just Revealed Facebook’s 7-Point Plan to Censor “Fake News” and It’s Chilling. The free Thought project.

7 Ge, Linda (2016) “Mark Zuckerberg: over 99 percent of Facebook content is authentic” .

8 Fernholz, Tim (2016) “Mark Zuckerberg says fake news on Facebook could not have influenced the 2016 election“.

9 Silverman, Craig (2016) “This Analysis Shows How Viral Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook”

10 Silverman, Craig; Hall, Ellie; Strapagiel, Lauren; Singer-Vine, Jeremy; Shaban, Hamza (2016) “Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate“.

11 Gutierrez-rubi, Antoni (2016) “¿Tiene Facebook la clave del éxito electoral de Trump?“.

12 Foucault, M. (1999). El orden del discurso, trad. Alberto González, Tusquets, Barcelona.

Marc Chalamanch

Es co-fundador del estudio de arquitectura y urbanismo ARCHIKUBIK Arquitecto y Urbanista licenciado por la ETSA de Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Máster universitario «Sociedad de la Información y el Conocimiento» en la UOC (Universidad Abierta de Catalunya).

Su investigación académica, apoyada en su experiencia profesional, va dirigida al análisis de la transformación de la ciudad con sus actores, problemáticas y retos en la Sociedad Red.

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